Creationists often argue that evolution is “only a theory” [Miller2008]. This claim of course confuses the vernacular meaning of “theory” (a half-baked conjecture that has not been seriously tested) with the scientific meaning of “theory” (a solid, falsifiable hypothesis that has led to a rich literature of quantitative, empirical science). Behind the creationists’ comment is
Continue reading How fast can evolution operate?
In Williamstown, Kentucky, a full-scale reproduction of Noah’s ark is now open to the public. Claimed to be the largest all-wood structure in the world, it is 155 m (510 ft) long, 26 m (85 ft) wide, and 16 m (51 ft) high, closely corresponding to the biblical dimensions, given in Genesis 6:15, namely
Continue reading Are Noah’s ark and flood literal scientific facts?
The 2004 “hobbit” discovery and controversy
In 2004 the scientific world was startled by the announcement of the discovery of Homo floresiensis, more commonly known as the “hobbit” due to its diminutive size, on the island of Flores in the Indian Ocean north of Australia. Remarkably, this specimen lived until as recently as 66,000 years
Continue reading Are the “hobbits” a separate prehuman species?
Creationists often argue that evolution is “just a theory,” since we don’t see it in action today — it is “hypothesized” to have occurred, but scientists have no proof. Intelligent design writers acknowledge that evolution might occur “within kinds,” but question whether it can occur beyond the limits of a “kind” (which probably means
Continue reading The rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria: Evolution before our eyes
There is one fundamental sense in which science can be seen to be partners with religion: the “idea of progress.” Robert Nisbet defines the idea of progress as the notion that mankind has advanced in the past, from barbarism and ignorance, is now advancing, and will continue to advance through the foreseeable future [Nisbet1980,
Continue reading Would modern science have developed without the monotheistic tradition?
In his book The God Delusion Dawkins proposes that a belief in God is an accidental by-product of evolution, a “mis-firing of something useful” [Dawkins2006, pg. 188]. Elsewhere he has written that a belief in God is somehow a “virus of the mind.”
Peter Turchin in the role of religion in world history
Continue reading Is religion a pernicious delusion in world history?
Frauds in scientific research
From time to time, the scientific community is rocked by cases of scientific fraud. Needless to say, such incidents do not help instill confidence in the public mind that is already predisposed to be skeptical of inconvenient scientific findings. Some notable cases include: (a) a series of papers in nanoelectronics by
Continue reading How likely is it that scientists are engaged in a conspiracy?
New evidence for life on earth 4.1 billion years ago
In a report released 19 Oct 2015 (see also this New Scientist report and the original technical article), geochemists at UCLA announced evidence that life very likely existed 4.1 billion years ago, which is at least 300 million years earlier than the previous research consensus.
Continue reading Life existed on earth 4.1 billion years ago
Sample skeleton found by Berger and his associates at the Homo Naledi site
In September 2015, a research team led by Lee Burger, who discovered the Australopithecus sediba fossils in 2010, announced that they have uncovered a treasure-trove of fossils from a new hominin species, which they have named “Homo naledi.” To date they
Continue reading New prehuman species “Homo naledi” found in South Africa
In their criticisms of the creationism and intelligent design movements, particularly in legal cases, scientists and others are quick to point out (correctly!) that these movements are inherently religious. For example, in the 2005 legal case “Kitzmiller vs. Dover Area School District,” where parents challenged the Dover Area School District’s decision to require intelligent
Continue reading Is science based on secular humanism?